Crystals are girls' best friends too!

Trip Start Apr 18, 2011
Trip End May 03, 2011

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Where I stayed
Hotel Cristal Munich
Read my review - 2/5 stars

Flag of Austria  , Austrian Alps,
Friday, April 22, 2011

Took the 802am Railjet 364 train to Innsbruck ( this morning. The train journey took about 1hr and 49 mins, reaching Innsbruck around 951am.

We deposited our backpacks at the train station before checking out how to get to Swarovski Crystal World ( from the Tourist Information Counter. The bus ticket (to & fro) plus the entrance fee was EUR18 and the next shuttle service from the Train Station would leave at 11am. 

As there was still a lot of time to kill before the bus arrive, we crossed the road to go to the opposite side of the train station and settled ourselves nicely into a cozy cafe to order some coffee. We sensed something was wrong when many men came in and ordered coffee and starting lighting their cigarettes and smoked! Ahem ahem ahem.... I was really irritated by the pungent smell of the cigarettes, but too bad we sat in the Smoking Area....

Nonetheless, we decided to walk back to the train station and wait for the 11am shuttle service to Swarovski Crystal World. It took us almost 30mins to reach our destination, and the scenery along the way was breathtaking - snow-capped mountains, meadows, lakes... wow! Innsbruck seemed to be better-looking than Vienna & Salzburg combined!

The giant with crystal eyes and mouth coming out from his mouth greeted us at the 'main garden' and I was quite disappointed by its size and magnificence... It just doesn't look anything like the posters or video which was played on the shuttle bus before we arrived. Its too small in real life... and there were no lights to illuminate the dazzling effects of the crystals... 

There were a total of 14 thematic rooms to explore:
1. Jim Whiting's Mechanical Theatre
2. Crystal Dome
3. Crystaloscope
4. Crystal Theater
5. Crystal Calligraphy
6. Ice Passage
7 & 8. Gallery
9. The Giant's Belongings
10. La Primadonna Assoluta
11. Poseidon's Puzzle
12. 55 Million Crystals by Brian Eno
13. Reflections
14. Crystal Forest

The crystal dome which was supposed to allow listeners to experience the best accoustics when the performer stands in the center of the room to sing (this was shown through a video at one of the rooms). In fact, when we were in the dome and spoke, we could hear the echoes! And there were different lighting effects in the room, and each time a coloured light was shone into the room, we could also see the different objects hidden behind those crystals. 

The Crystal Theater was also rather interesting. I loved this dance by Mr Moonface & Miss Sunshine. I could see their 'skulls' when my flash light shone on their heads! Also, inside Poseidon's Puzzles, I ccould see faint 'streams' flickering when I was trying to take pictures of the crystalised fish, seahorse or corals on the ground! 

There's this room which showed off The Giant's Belongings.. Strange... How did the giant come about? Is this the Giant we saw at the Main Entrance? He had this super big accordion, which played loud music automatically, and he had a huge ring too! 

After going through all the thematic rooms & a "Timeless Swarovski" Exhibit, we arrived at the Crystal Stage, where we get to purchase Swarovski Crystals (EUR2 is refunded with EUR8 purchases, and if you purchased EUR75 & above, you're eligible for Tax Refund). I bought a handphone strap for my sis-in-law, as well as one with a ladybird for myself, and Dawn & I both shared a handphone strap for Yuan, and a Birthday Card with Swarovski Crystals for Ah Leng. 

We headed out to The Giant's Park and climbed up the Lookout Tower to take in the surroundings before rushing off to the bus stop to wait for the 130pm shuttle service to take us back to the Train Station.

Lunch was settled at Burger King. This marked our first fast food experience in Austria! As usual, we ordered 2 different types of burgers to share - Crispy Chicken & Long Chilli Cheese. I could only say that Fast Food in Austria was really expensive. We spent EUR11.80 on Burger King alone (convert that to SGD and you'll suffer a huge heartache...)

We began our "Old City" walk immediately after lunch since we'll be taking the evening train to Munich. As explained by the patient uncle at the TI this morning, he crossed out the words "Old Town" from the City Map, and wrote "Old City" since Innsbruck had developed into a city.

We walked towards the direction of Maria-Theresien-Strasse, which cuts through the heart of the city from north to south. Annasaule (St. Anna's Column) was visible in front of the Rathaus (town hall). There were lots of shopping malls along Maria-Theresien-Strasse, and the four-letter word "SALE" splashed all over the shop windows! Its the Easter Sale! However, we avoided the temptation and headed straight for the Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof), whichwas supposed to be the major tourist attraction in Innsbruck.

True enough, all the tourists gathered in front of the Goldenes Dachl and snapped away with their cameras. There's an open-air Easter Market at the square in front of the Goldenes Dahl, and a lot of people were dressed in traditional Tyrolean costumes, celebrating the occasion.

I liked the Helbling Haus, which stood next to the Goldenes Dachl. This building caught my eye despite the dazzling gold roof. The salmon-coloured building with elaborate designs that resembled embroidery on its facade was simply lovely to look at!

The Stadtturm was just diagonally opposite the Goldenes Dachl, so we decided to climb the 148 steps up to enjoy the panoramic view of the city. We had to pay EUR3 to climb up the Stadtturm, and there were some cool souvenirs to check-out after we descended from the tower (where I bought 2 postcards, 1 collar pin, and 1 'make your own souvenir coin).

The view was indeed pretty up there! Innsbruck was surrounded by snow-capped mountains and its no wonder many Europeans loved to come here instead of Switzerland to ski! 

The Hofburg is around the corner but we didn't want to spend money to go in, since we thought most of them should look similar (since Austria was under the Habsburg dynasty for so long!). 

We continued with our walk past the medieval town, and reached the Ottoburg (  - which was said to be the oldest house in Innsbruck, but has been converted into a restaurant now. The exterior of the building looked rather interesting, and there was a pair of rather 'fishy-looking' statues outside the Ottoburg, but they were in fact Tirolean freedom fighters of 1809 created by Christian Plattner.
We crossed the road and stood on the bridge to take in the beautiful surroundings. Mountains... lakes...Ahhh.. Such a nice little city! We turned back and walked towards Hotel Goldener Adler, before stopping at Cafe Handl for some refreshments. There's a special promo going on - Get a cappuccino and a piece of apple strudel for EUR3.90! We grabbed the offer, and topped up with another cup of cappuccino (EUR2.60) and ordered an Ice-cream with fruits (EUR4.90), and sat there to people-watch.

The square suddenly became very noisy when a bunch of kids in traditional costumes passing by and rattling some objects in their hands! Everyone was busy chatting in front of stores, buying Easter-related items at the market, or just browsing through the items.

We walked back towards the train station to catch the 636pm train to Munich. Along the way, we passed by the Triumphal Arch, where one side reflected Happiness and the other Sadness. This was because Emperor Franz I died while her son was preparing for his marriage. 

We also passed by the Altes Landhaus, St. Jacob's Church, and a Casino on our walk back to the Train Station. 

There's a supermarket at the Train Station and we went in to grab some drinks and chips. 

The train arrived at Munchenhof around 825pm, and it took us relatively quickly to find our accommodation for the night - Best Western Hotel Cristal. We were assigned to Room 103, and its facing the main street. The worst thing is ------> there's no air-conditioning in the room!!! ARGH! We had thought that the weather should be quite cool when we were booking the room, however, the weather played us out, and the room turned out quite hot! 

I began to regret when I heard cars honking, and people talking loudly as they walked past our hotel at 914pm! SHIT! We had to spend 6 nights at this hotel!!! Now I know why the room is so cheap - at EUR69 per night, with no air-con and near the streets!

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